The Importance of Good Neighbors.
I did our last convention of 2019 this past weekend, Rhode Island Comic Con. I had fun and there were good people there, but in the two years I’ve done that show I’ve had two of the best table neighbors in recent memory. We usually have nice people beside us at conventions, but Rhode Island Comic Con has given me two of the most memorable weekend neighbors. Good table neighbors are essential when you exhibit at shows alone, as I did this past weekend.
A bad table neighbor can ruin your weekend altogether. Carnival barkers are the worst kind of neighbor, in my opinion. The ones who shout their pitch or hook out to anyone passing by, regardless of their interest in their table or, even worse, yelling to snipe attention away from other tables. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the neighbor who closes themselves in with their display. I did a show in Boston where my neighbor said hello at the beginning of the show, then surrounded themselves with their towering table display and curved banners. Not only did they partially block anyone’s view of me, but they blocked my view of part of the show. It was like I was sitting next to a wall, which only made the weekend pass by more slowly.
A good table neighbor’s company will help you pass the time, and you may score a new friendship from the weekend. That’s what happened to me last year, and this year, at Rhode Island Comic Con.
Last year, my table neighbors were two charmingly grungy art kids from Providence. They exhibited because they were local and didn’t care much about making sales. Nothing on their table cost more than ten dollars. They hooked me up with places to eat and visit around the city. They called me “brother” and “cat” and liked to wink at me. I loved these guys. Check them out at Snack King Comics.
This year my table neighbor was Rich Bernatovech, an artist and writer with whom I formed a quick friendship. We not only bonded over our love of comics and storytelling, but it turns out he was also a former theater major / actor who gave up that life to pursue comics! It’s rare that I get to talk live performance with a fellow exhibitor at conventions, so the chance to trade stories about acting school and all its quirks was a nice surprise. Check him out at Drumfish Productions.
It’s important to be a good table neighbor at conventions, too. Having a merch table isn’t all about you. It’s about being part of the convention, for attendees and especially other exhibitors. You may be someone’s first table neighbor, and your behavior will reflect upon that artist’s “first ever convention” experience. If you’re a good neighbor, they’ll have fond memories of that weekend they sat next to you for three straight days.